Evolution, Extinction, and the Future of Our Planet
Donald R. Prothero's science books combine leading research with first-person narratives of discovery, injecting warmth and familiarity into a profession that has much to offer nonspecialists. Bringing his trademark style and wit to an increasingly relevant subject of concern, Prothero links the climate changes that have occurred over the past 200 million years to their effects on plants and animals. In particular, he contrasts the extinctions that ended the Cretaceous period, which wiped out the dinosaurs, with those of the later Eocene and Oligocene epochs.
Prothero begins with the "greenhouse of the dinosaurs," the global-warming episode that dominated the Age of Dinosaurs and the early Age of Mammals. He describes the remarkable creatures that once populated the earth and draws on his experiences collecting fossils in the Big Badlands of South Dakota to sketch their world. Prothero then discusses the growth of the first Antarctic glaciers, which marked the Eocene-Oligocene transition, and shares his own anecdotes of excavations and controversies among colleagues that have shaped our understanding of the contemporary and prehistoric world.
The volume concludes with observations about Nisqually Glacier and other locations that show how global warming is happening much quicker than previously predicted, irrevocably changing the balance of the earth's thermostat. Engaging scientists and general readers alike, Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs connects events across thousands of millennia to make clear the human threat to natural climate change.
"Prothero has woven together a gripping tale that will fascinate readers with many levels of expertise." — Fossil News
"Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs should be on the suggested reading list for any undergraduate interested in pursuing paleontology, and as a paleobiological statement, shows that paleontology is more than (fossilized) sticks and stones." — Geology Today
"...this is a very enriching, stimulating, and, of course, enjoyable reading." — Zentralblatt fur Geologie und Palaontologie
"Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs is a highly readable walk through the career of one of the preeminent writers in Earth sciences. Donald R. Prothero has been in the thick of the major problems in Earth and life history for the past thirty years. In this work, he explains what we can learn from deep-time studies about why we are here in a very enjoyable and informative way. A great book." — David Bottjer, professor of Earth sciences and biological sciences, University of Southern California
"A fascinating and informative book about three decades of achievement in paleontology." — Richard Stucky, Denver Museum of Nature and Science
"Donald R. Prothero, an outstanding paleontologist, is a skilled veteran of bringing both the intellectual and adventurous excitement of paleontology to a broad readership. Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs adds Prothero's personal stamp, as he shares his own stories of discovery in the field and how they meld with the equally exciting world of evolutionary paleobiology. Prothero's narrative approach is the very best for conveying the human side of paleontological science to the world." — Niles Eldredge, curator, American Museum of Natural History
1. Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs
2. Bad Lands, Good Fossils
3. Magnets and Lasers
4. "Punk Eek" in the Badlands
5. Death of the Dinosaurs
6. Marine World
7. Rocky Mountain Jungles and Eels' Ears
8. From Greenhouse to Icehouse
9. Once and Future Greenhouse?
10. Kids, Dinosaurs, and the Future of Paleontology